Who we are and what we do
We are a specialist provision within a mainstream setting for children with Autistic Spectrum (AS) and are situated within Farringdon Community Academy in Sunderland. We have been established since 2007 and currently support 35 students across years 7-11. We were the first provision of this type in Sunderland and admit students city-wide, who have a statement/ EHC plan for SEN and a firm diagnosis of AS. We were the National Autistic Society 2013 Inspirational Educational Provision. The Authority commissions places from Farringdon Community Academy and allocates them city-wide. The Provision is led by a teacher-manager and staffed by a team of specialist teaching assistants, together with a smaller number of teachers. The ASP shares a suite of rooms with our Inclusion Support Centre. This includes a dedicated entrance, disabled toilet facilities, sensory room, relaxation room and nurture room. Enhanced transition planning and preparation takes place in Year 6 and Year 11 in order to prepare for change. Independent living skills, including travel skills, and social skills are promoted at every opportunity. Our students make good academic progress across a variety of subjects.
Students from the ASP participate in the full life of Farringdon Academy. They are given access to enrichment opportunities, extra-curricula activities and are supported in all aspects of the curriculum, including community days, educational visits, access to the local community and whole-provision project days across all year groups. Non-provision students are welcome within the provision during break and lunch times. We are committed to improving wider AS awareness and have a programme of whole-school assemblies and information cards on AS are available to all students at Farringdon Community Academy. Pivotal support is provided by both senior and middle managers and the provision has an established and respected status within the wider staff and school community. A rolling CPD programme is delivered to all staff within school by the provision staff.
Students with AS at both Key Stage 3 and 4 are entitled to access a high quality education within a broad and balanced curriculum individually tailored to the child’s needs as and when they arise. Access to appropriate learning at Farringdon Community Academy is through a coloured pathway system, where students are placed within a band based on their ability; some subject areas elect to teach within mixed-ability groupings. Students within the provision cover a range of ability. Additionally, some subjects are taught within the provision environment, in order to provide a specialized AS approach to teaching and learning. These include turn-taking, phonics, language acquisition, reading, motor skills, PHSE and independent study support. PE is delivered within the mainstream environment. Students have the opportunity to take part in swimming, use of the cardiovascular suite in the gym, trampolining, cycling and team games. AS students are assessed for exam access arrangements, in preparation for external examinations. Exams are taken within the provision rather than examination hall, providing our students with a familiar safe learning environment.
Social & Life Skills
At Farringdon, we consider unstructured times of day to be important learning opportunities for our students with AS. As well as providing a safe haven, we also operate an activity choice system staffed by AS trained TAs. In order to foster long term success and future development, the social curriculum is as important for our students as their academic curriculum. We allow for both planned and impromptu opportunities for this type of learning. This may include explicit sessions of PHSE, educational trips and visits to the local community, lunchtime activities and provision breakfast club. There are also special events which have been catered for and served by the students and have included parental coffee mornings, and buffet lunches for interviewees. We have strong links with the local fire service and local community police and have held events both at the fire station and within the provision. Emotional understanding is addressed through various means, such as quiet room, sensory room, sensory diets, social stories, drawing out feelings, comic strip, barometers. Each student has a personalised sensory profile and positive handling plan in place.
All parents are made welcome within the provision and are able to make contact through the medium which is most suitable to them, whether it be phone, email or home/school diaries. We are in contact on at least a weekly basis, although if necessary this can be as often as daily.
Criteria for success
Farringdon ASP is best suited to students:
“We are not born to suffer. We are born to thrive. If you live in a dry area and your garden receives little water, you plant plants which like dry soil. But when you are given a plant that likes wet soil, you don’t kill it, you water it, you spend one of your 1440 minutes each day watering that plant. Because you know that given the right care that little bit of effort can produce spectacular blooms. And so it should be with children like us. “
Joshua Muggleton (age 17) taken from NAS website, 2008
ASP Booklet (PDF)